Connectedness: Sensing the Bigger Picture

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links among all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has meaning" -The Gallup Organization

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone who has Connectedness as her #1 strength. After talking with her about this theme for a while, she started to look more and more disappointed. Eventually she said, "But, what can I do with that, LeAnne? This is totally true of me, but how is that going to help me in my career?"

Sadly, this is a common sentiment we sometimes hear from people who have a lot of Relationship-Building talents:

"That's not a real strength."

"That isn't that special, though."

"I need strengths like (fill in the blank)."

Having worked with many leaders, teams and organizations over the years, I strongly disagree. In fact, the reason many teams aren't cohesive, productive, or efficient is that they lack the presence of individuals with strong Relationship-Building strengths. Without people who can create and maintain healthy relationships, build trust, and manage the emotional and relational factors at play, organizations will struggle to attract and retain great employees.

And they will definitely struggle to build an exceptional workplace culture.

Those who have Relationship-Building themes, such as Connectedness, are typically the glue that holds teams and organizations together. They see things others don't have eyes to see. They position teams for success because they don't see people as resources or job descriptions to be managed. They see people as human beings with unique thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Whether you have the Connectedness theme or not, the next time you hear someone diminish or undermine their own Relationship-Building talents, or the Relationship-Building talents of others, gently correct them.

Because you can't build a great team without people who care about each other.

The Talents of People High in Connectedness

People high in Connectedness bring an appreciation of the mystery of life and see themselves and other people as part of something bigger - a global community. While some people get bogged down in trivial details or drown in the day-to-day, those with Connectedness see the complete picture. They believe things don't just happen randomly. Events do not happen in isolation. Rather, all things work together.

Those with Connectedness tend to be very intuitive and have strong faith in the links between events and people. The objects of their faith and conviction vary from person to person, but in general, those high in this theme are deeply spiritual and bring a lot of depth to their relationships and organizations.

A person high in Connectedness will be passionate about the overall vision and mission of his organization. He will see his individual role as significant to the overall purpose of the team and organization, and he will thrive when given freedom to advocate for the overall good of those people who will be impacted by the products, services, and mission of the organization.

These individuals are also equipped to help others see the roles they play, the value they bring, the purpose they fulfill. They are able to make others feel seen, heard, and understood. As leaders, those high in Connectedness help their team members collaborate, build connections and bridges, and connect the dots within the organization.

Because those high in this theme sense and value the unifying forces at play in all circumstances, there are few things more upsetting than an "us vs. them" mentality, because even our individual and collective differences should unite us.

One client we worked with described his Connectedness theme like this:

"I think I have the ability to see how what's happening in one department will impact the bottom line of another department, or of the company as a whole. I am the "forest" guy when others sometimes see only the trees of their own departments."

And that is the heart of the Connectedness theme - the ability to sense how our decisions and actions will affect the larger picture. What we did yesterday impacts today and tomorrow. How we treat each other today will matter forever.

The Temptations for People High in Connectedness

Because people high in Connectedness believe that everything happens for a reason, they can be perceived as too idealistic, or even naive, at times. Their deep conviction that we are all connected can also result in them being more reactive, rather than proactive, when a situation warrants strategic planning and action. If they are more passive in their roles over time, others can grow to view them as "wishy-washy" or "flaky" coworkers and leaders.

At times, those high in this theme can see connections that don't exist, make decisions based on intuition alone, or fail to understand the seriousness of a situation. In some contexts, their perspective can even result in them unintentionally minimizing unfortunate or unjust situations.

To the person high in Connectedness, it's tempting to "mentally check-out" at work if she doesn't sense the immediate demands of the job. Sometimes this person will fail to acknowledge the seriousness of deadlines and performance objectives, content to passively observe what goes on around her. The conviction that all things will work out - past, present, and future - can also result in her failing to focus on the crucial needs of the moment.

Connect the Dots

Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Connectedness theme:

  1. Spend time thinking about the ways you could build bridges and create new relational connections in your workplace. Are there individuals who should meet or work together? Are there processes or policies that have unintended consequences you need to bring to light? Are there ways people rely on each other without realizing it? Take time to give voice to these observations.

  2. Try partnering with someone high in Influencing themes such as Communication or Significance. These individuals will help you craft messages about the meaning behind events and help you make strategic and impactful decisions in light of the connections you see.

  3. When leading others, ask great questions that get your team members thinking about the roles that each person plays in the larger vision, mission, and purpose of your organization. For example, ask each team member, "How can you connect what each person on your team does to the overall mission of your organization?"

At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.

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